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Gull management: A year-round concern

| May 30, 2017

One of the perennial challenges faced by the pest control sector is that most work is reactive.

Gulls species can live up to 35 years. They can start breeding at around three years of age and produce one or two broods per year. As such, it would ill-advised to ignore even one or two nests because that number can increase exponentially if left unchecked.

If there are no obvious signs of a pest problem, then it is easy to neglect an issue until it (inevitably) rears whatever passes for a head in a particular scenario. However, it is very difficult to ignore gulls, particularly given northern Europe is home to some of the biggest species on the planet. That said, the problems are often seasonal and people have short memories!

Many species are in decline across Europe, for example herring gull numbers have halved in the UK since the 1970s. This is most likely down to a combination of factors: climate change; the decline in the numbers of prey fish; and the EU’s fisheries policies, which now prohibit the discarding of fish. However, gulls are highly intelligent and have been very successful in adapting to changes within our society. As we have become increasingly urbanised, so have they, becoming a fixture in many urban and suburban areas.

It is since the birds started moving inland to take advantage of the numerous scavenging opportunities afforded by in our towns and cities that they have become considered a pest. To put this another way, while gulls once followed trawlers for discarded fish, they now follow rubbish trucks – not such a romantic image! As such, any conflict with people is a problem of our own making. While gulls are vilified for ‘attacks’, these are generally down to the fact the birds are good parents and are protecting their offspring. However, it does seem a to be a matter of time before there is a serious injury…

This is an extract of the full article published in International Pest Control – Jan/Feb 2017 issue.

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Author: John Dickson*
* Managing Director, NBC Environment

Tags: , ,

Category: Public health

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